Academic considerations or support

At various times during their legal studies, students may experience personal situations which may prevent them from writing an exam as scheduled, submitting a paper or assignment on time or completing a course. There may be time when a student may require a more comprehensive academic plan due to illness or a disability.

There are policies and procedures in place that provide options to assist a student. These options may include extensions, deferrals, attendance waiver, leave of absence and/or part time studies. Requests for academic considerations are directed to the Student Affairs Office rather than individual instructors.

The SAO is available to meet with students to discuss ways to provide some flexibility in the program and to accommodate particular circumstances. Students must be prepared to provide supporting documentation when seeking considerations.

Some personal circumstances for which considerations may be warranted include, but are not limited to:

  • Pregnancy
  • Delivery of a child
  • Parenting issues
  • Family/partner illness
  • Death in the immediate family or of a person with whom the student has a similarly close relationship
  • Student health (mental/physical)
  • Religious observances
  • Other extraordinary circumstances, as deemed appropriate by the SAO.

McGill also provides Guidelines for the Academic Considerations of Pregnant Students and Students Caring for Dependants [.pdf].

Procedures

If for any of the above reasons you require an extension (Term Essay or Final Paper) or deferral, please submit an Extension request form or a Deferred examination form, along with supporting documentation for approval. You will be notified once your request is processed.

The Student Affairs Office reserves the right to make final decisions regarding what considerations are reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.

How to Request Academic Support

Listed below are the types of considerations that the SAO may be able to offer you. In all situations, supporting documentation (e.g. medical certificate) may be required in order to receive an academic consideration.

Students who experience barriers related to their temp or perm disabilities, should seek academic accommodation through the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD)

The Student Affairs Office reserves the right to make final decisions regarding what considerations are reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances.

Extensions

Extensions: An extension may be granted for written work if you are unable to submit by the assigned deadline due to medical or analogous circumstances. For additional information regarding extensions, please see: Extensions on exams and papers

Class Participation: Students are expected to attend class on a regular basis. If due to illness or analogous circumstances you are absent for a lengthy period of time, you must make every effort to notify the SAO within a reasonable amount of time. Supporting documentation is required in order to have the absence excused and to avoid any penalty. The SAO will notify the instructor if an absence is excused and a penalty is not warranted.

Deferral of an examination; illness before or during an examination

A deferral may be applied if you are unable to write the following:

  • Final exams (Deferred Final Exams take place in August, Key dates and deadlines).
  • Midterm exams (Deferred Midterm Exams take place during the term in which the original midterm was held. First-year midterm exams that are held in December are not subject to this general rule)

For a deferral to be considered, students must inform the SAO, prior to or within twenty-four (24) hours of the examination, of the reasons for requesting permission to write a deferred examination. You should be aware that requests to defer an exam will only be approved for compelling reasons, verified and accepted by the Student Affairs Office. You must provide supporting evidence such as an appropriate medical report.

Documentation in support of a deferral request is required and must be attached to the Deferral of a Final Examination Request Form (log-in required for security reasons). The following are approved forms of documentation:

Signed letter or certificate, from an attending physician, confirming the consultation date(s), nature and duration of illness. (Must demonstrate significant impact on the student’s performance).

  • Statement from Counsellor.
  • Death certificate or other proof of death.
  • Letter(s) of support (other than personal letter)
  • Other documents (briefly explain)

Before you request a deferral, please consult our Policy on Deferred Exams, and our Deferred and Supplemental Examinations page.

Illness during an examination:

The Faculty of Law follows the University’s regulations regarding illness during exams.

If you feel ill during your exam, please do the following:

  1. Notify the invigilator.
  2. Hand in your un-finished exam.
  3. Immediately consult a recognized medical authority and obtain a medical note.
  4. Submit the medical note the next day or as soon as possible to the SAO.
  5. The SAO will contact you with the next steps.

Illness before an examination:

If you wake up on the day of your exam and feel that you cannot write the exam for medical or analogous circumstances, do not write your exam. Immediately seek medical attention. A deferral request must then be completed and submitted to the SAO along with the appropriate documentation (e.g. medical certificate covering date of exam missed and nature of illness). The SAO will then contact you.

The SAO will be unable to make considerations if you complete the examination or if you leave the examination without notifying anyone of your situation.

For first-year students only

First-year midterm exams are written in December: if a deferral is granted for a December midterm, one of the following considerations may be granted:

  1. Reschedule the midterm. A make-up exam may be given in the Winter term, usually in mid-January/early-February.
  2. Shifting the weight of the midterm to the final exam. This is only appropriate if the final exam is cumulative for the year; otherwise the material on the missed exam would go untested. Weight should not be added to group work or class participation.
  3. Assign a different mode of evaluation in place of the midterm in order to test the material covered. The format is determined by the instructor in consultation with the SAO.

The appropriate consideration is determined in January in consultation with the SAO, the instructor of the course, and the student.

Religious considerations

Students may apply for special examination arrangements for an examination that falls on a religious or holy day by using the Examination conflict report form.

Students who require a special arrangement on religious grounds will be required to write the examination in advance of the regular examination, normally on the first available work day preceding the regular examination. Students will be asked to sign a Exam Confidentiality Agreement confirming that they will not discuss the examination with anyone until after the regular examination has been written.

The deadlines to report an exam conflict are listed on the SAO's Key Dates and Deadlines page. These deadlines are approximately at the end of November for the Fall term and at the end of March for the Winter term. Students are responsible for checking the Key Dates and Deadlines page to ascertain the exact dates.

For more information, please refer to McGill's Policy on Holy Days and List of Holy Days.

Students with disabilities

Services for disabled students are available through the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). Students with temporary or permanent disabilities who require accommodations for exams must meet with the Director or Access Services Advisor to determine eligible accommodations.

Last day to register and receive exam accommodations for Fall 2019 final exams is Friday November 1.

To register, visit the OSD's exam sign-up form. For logistical reasons there is a 7-day deadline to sign up for exams.

Part-time studies

According to Faculty of Law Academic Regulations, Resolutions and Policies, either at the time of admission, or during their studies in the Faculty, a student may be permitted to pursue the joint degrees in law for the whole course or for a limited period, on a part-time basis, on the ground that full-time study is impracticable for any of the following reasons, the validity of which shall be established to the satisfaction of the Dean or the Dean’s Delegate on the basis of the submission of a written request, accompanied by detailed supporting documentation:

  1. disability, defined as a physical, mental, learning or sensory impairment that restricts the candidate’s ability to perform the daily activities necessary to pursue studies at a postsecondary level, as attested by a professional in the relevant specialization;
  2. pregnancy and childbirth;
  3. responsibility as a primary caregiver for an individual that the student regularly and continuously assists in carrying out a basic activity of daily living;
  4. illness, injury, or another health problem;
  5. financial hardship; and
  6. other exceptional circumstances.

A candidate studying part-time shall be subject to all of the academic regulations of the Faculty, save as follows:

  1. the candidate shall complete all requirements for the joint degrees within at most seven academic years.
  2. in general, a candidate studying part-time shall register for not fewer than nine credits in each term with the exception of the final term, should a lesser number of credits be required for the obtaining of the degree sought; nevertheless, under special circumstances, the Dean or the Dean’s delegate may grant the candidate permission to register for a lesser number of credits, for one term, renewable if the exceptional circumstances persist.
  3. a candidate studying part-time due to a major functional or permanent disability that has been certified by a government loan and bursary program may register for six credits in each term on the basis of the submission of a written request, accompanied by detailed supporting documentation.
  4. a candidate admitted to part-time study on the basis of a disability shall be eligible to be considered for scholarships and fellowships available to full-time students, on the basis of equivalent academic standing.
  5. the Dean or the Dean’s Delegate shall, generally or in any particular case, establish special rules or conditions governing the selection and sequence of obligatory and complementary courses and other degree requirements; and shall review the eligibility and status of the candidate in each academic year.

Leave of absence

Under special circumstances, candidates who have interrupted their studies after having completed at least 32 credits arising out of courses given in the Faculty may be permitted by the Dean or the Dean's delegate to continue their studies. In such event, the period of interruption shall not be included in the calculation of the five-year period. (Faculty Academic Regulations, Art. 6)

A leave of absence must be requested on a term-by-term basis and may be granted for a period of up to 52 weeks. A leave of absence request should be submitted to the Associate Dean (Academic) or the Director (Student Life & Learning) along with appropriate documentation.

Students who are granted such a leave will have "leave of absence" recorded on their transcript.

No tuition fees will be charged for the duration of the authorized leave. During a leave of absence, you maintain an active student ID card and have access to McGill mail and use of the libraries. You are not permitted to register for courses, to participate in student internships, or perform undergraduate research. You may not normally attend another academic institution; exceptions may be requested for professional development. Faculties may request documentation of a student's readiness to resume studies; they will apply "withdrawn" status after one year of approved leave of absence if the student has not returned to the University.

Some details

  • Personal objectives, such as travel or time off, and financial matters are not grounds for a leave of absence.
  • Normally, a student shall be in Satisfactory Standing when requesting a leave of absence; exceptions may apply and will be determined by the Associate Dean (Academic).
  • Since students on a leave of absence pay no fees, Student Services are not available; however, an opt-in option is available at the usual rate.
  • Students who are eligible for scholarship renewal will not have scholarship monies transferred to their account while they are on leave of absence, but will maintain eligibility for renewal upon registration in subsequent terms.
  • Terms and conditions vary among loan and bursary providers; student consultation with an adviser in Scholarships and Student Aid is recommended.
  • International students are advised to contact International Student Services (ISS) regarding individual circumstances.

University withdrawal

Students who are considering withdrawing from their program are strongly encouraged to see the Faculty's Associate Dean (Academic) prior to taking any action on MINERVA. Appointments can be arranged by emailing sao.law [at] mcgill.ca.

If you are experiencing problems, please sao.law [at] mcgill.ca (contact the SAO) to speak with an advisor first.

For more information on university withdrawal, see McGill University Regulations and Resources: University Withdrawal University Withdrawal Request

For more information on university withdrawal, see the following:


Adjusted Academic Measures for Winter 2020

At the start of the COVID-19 crisis, McGill modified its academic measures for the Winter 2020 term. Now, for the Fall 2020 term, and going forward, the usual SAO policies and procedures have resumed.

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